News Corp. Profit Meets Estimates as Real Estate Offsets Ad Drop

  • Revenue of $1.89 billion misses projections as print ads fall
  • CEO calls results ‘disappointing,’ cites ‘difficult’ market

News Corp., the Wall Street Journal and New York Post publisher controlled by billionaire Rupert Murdoch, reported fiscal third-quarter profit that met analysts’ estimates as digital revenue in its real estate business offset a decline in advertising sales.

Earnings, excluding some items, were 4 cents a share, meeting the average of projections compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue was $1.89 billion, the New York-based company said Thursday. That trailed the average projection of $1.93 billion.

News Corp. has been trying to boost digital and international sales to compensate for falling print revenue at its newspapers as readers increasingly get their news online.

In a statement, Chief Executive Robert Thomson called the results “disappointing” and said they were affected by a legal settlement, foreign currency fluctuations and “difficult conditions for advertising” in its news division.

Sales at the news unit, which makes up about two-thirds of the company’s revenue, fell 9 percent to $1.23 billion. Advertising revenue in the news division declined 15 percent as print ad sales fell. Circulation and subscription revenues slid 4 percent but would have been flat excluding foreign currency changes.

Revenue in the company’s real estate business rose 14 percent in the quarter to $194 million. Thomson said that traffic on “remained robust” and digital revenue at Dow Jones accounted for more than half of total sales for the first time.

Book publishing revenues fell 11 percent due to lower sales from the book “American Sniper” and the “Divergent” series and fewer e-book sales.

The company reported a net loss of $149 million in the quarter, compared with net income of $23 million a year ago.

Murdoch split his company in two in June 2013, giving 21st Century Fox Inc. the more lucrative entertainment assets and leaving News Corp. with his print properties, which include newspapers and the book publisher HarperCollins.

Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, competes with News Corp. in providing financial news and services.

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